United States v. New York Indians
Annotate this Case
173 U.S. 464 (1899)
U.S. Supreme Court
United States v. New York Indians, 173 U.S. 464 (1899)
United States v. New York Indians
Submitted January 30, 1899
Decided March 20, 1899
173 U.S. 464
After the hearing of the former appeal in this case, 170 U. S. 170 U.S. 1, and after the decree of this Court determining the rights of the parties and remanding the case to the Court of Claims with instructions to enter a new judgment for the net amount actually received by the government for the Kansas lands, without interest, less the amount of lands upon the basis of which settlement was made with the Tonawandas, and other just deductions, etc., and after the Court of Claims had complied with this mandate in accordance with its terms, a motion on the part of the United States to this Court to direct the Court of Claims to find further facts comes too late.
As the judgment of the Court of Claims now appealed from was in exact accordance with the mandate of this Court, the appeal from it is dismissed.
This case arose from a motion by the Indians to dismiss the appeal of the United States for want of jurisdiction, or, in the alternative, to affirm the judgment of the Court of Claims upon the ground that the question involved is so frivolous as not to need further argument, and also from a counter-motion by the United States for an order upon the Court of Claims to make a further finding of facts.
By an Act of Congress passed January 28, 1893, c. 52, 27 Stat. 426, the Court of Claims was authorized to hear and determine, and to enter up judgment upon, the claims of the Indians "who were parties to the Treaty of Buffalo Creek, New York," of January 15, 1838, to enforce an alleged liability of the United States for the value of certain lands in Kansas set apart for these Indians and subsequently sold by the United States, as well as for certain amounts of money agreed to be paid upon their removal.
In its findings of fact, the Court of Claims decided that the Indians described in the jurisdictional act above referred to as
"the New York Indians, being those Indians who were parties to the Treaty of Buffalo Creek, New York, on the 15th of January, 1838, were the following: Senecas, Onondagas, Onondagas residing on the Seneca reservation, Onondagas at Onondaga, Cayugas, Cayugas residing on the Seneca reservation, Cayuga Indians residing in the State of New York, Tuscaroras, Tuscaroras residing in the State of New York, Oneidas residing in New York at Green Bay (Wisconsin), and in the Seneca reservation, Oneidas, St. Regis, St. Regis in New York (the American party of the St. Regis resided in the State of New York), Stockbridges, Munsees, Brothertowns."
Upon the whole case, however, the Court of Claims found, as a conclusion of law from the facts, that the Indians had abandoned their claim, and accordingly dismissed their petition. On appeal to this Court under the act of Congress above mentioned, the judgment of the Court of Claims was reversed, 170 U. S. 170 U.S. 1, this Court being of opinion:
1. That the title acquired by the Indians under the treaty was a grant in praesenti of a legal title to a defined tract, described by metes and bounds, containing 1,824,000 acres, in the now State of Kansas.
2. That there was no uncertainty as to the land granted, or as to the identity of the grantees.
3. That the tribes for whom the Kansas lands were intended as a future home were the Senecas, Onondagas, Cayugas, Tuscaroras, Oneidas, St. Regis, Stockbridges, Munsees, and Brothertowns,
residing in the State of New York, as found in the first finding of fact by the Court of Claims.
4. That the grant to the Indians was of the entire tract, as specified in article two of the treaty, and not an allotment to them of 320 acres for each emigrant.
5. That the government had received the full consideration stipulated by the treaty, so far as such consideration was a valuable one for the Kansas lands, and had neglected to render any account of the same.
6. That the Indians had neither forfeited nor abandoned their interest in the Kansas lands, and that they were entitled to a judgment.
Thereupon the case was remanded to the Court of Claims with instructions
"to enter a new judgment for the net amount actually received by the government for the Kansas lands, without interest, less any increase in value attributable to the fact that certain of these lands were donated for public purposes, as well as the net amount which the court below may find could have been obtained for the lands otherwise disposed of, if they had all been sold as public lands, less the amount of land upon the basis of which settlement was made with the Tonawandas, and less 10,240 acres allotted to the thirty-two New York Indians, as set forth in finding 12, together with such deductions as may seem to the court below to the just, and for such other proceedings as may be necessary and in conformity with this opinion."
In obedience to this mandate, the Court of Claims on November 14, 1898, made certain further findings of fact, set forth in the margin, * and as a conclusion of law decreed
that the claimants recover from the United States the sum of $1,967,056, whereupon the United States took this appeal, and now move the court that the Court of Claims be ordered to further find and certify to this Court:
"First. What constituted the Onondagas at Onondaga, Oneidas at Green Bay, Stockbridges, Munsees, and Brothertowns, parties to the Treaty of Buffalo Creek, as proclaimed April 4, 1840?"
"Second. Whether or not the Oneidas at Green Bay, Stockbridges, Munsees, and Brothertowns resided in the State of
New York when the Treaty of Buffalo Creek was proclaimed, or when they became parties thereto."
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